YSYS Founders Stories panel was held during the AfroTech Fest on 26 January 2018. AfroTech Fest was a two-day tech festival by and for black people of African and Caribbean heritage. The hosts were Carl Konadu @ckkonadu and Abiola Babarinde @abxola, who were excellent facilitators on both days.
The central theme was to explore where technology meets the arts, history, news, activism and representation. YSYS Founders Stories panel was the highlight event of the day, held in the Main space, with over 80 in attendance.
The panel was introduced by Andy Ayim who was the Moderator. Panellists (L to R)
Product & UX Specialist @JayYoms
Startups & Product Mgt @AndysHVC
Startup founders panel was to discuss the challenges of building a business and how to scale their operations. Andy had the panelists introduce themselves;
@JayYoms Mastering analytics to help diverse teams get to traction quicker.
@trimit_app UK’s 1st Mobile Barbershop. Avoid a 2- 3 hour wait, and experience the luxury van. Download to book your Barbershop to your door step!
@CashmereTheApp is a savings platform for luxury goods, target is women 21-35 working in the city.
@AndysHVC London based Product Manager and startup advisor, Tech Contributor @Hackernoon & @Blavity
The panelists shared their insights at length with a snapshot being:
1. Running a startup requires some technical ability and vision with good budget control.
2. Get a grasp of your business model and customer acquisition at the beginning, i.e. use the Lean Startup model to develop a minimum viable product (MVP).
3. Founders should understand the tech ecosystem and build a functional team, also have a trusted & diverse network, i.e. join @ThisIsYSYS!!
4. At an early stage, network to find co-founders and talented staff who complement your own skill-set.
5. Important to develop good relationships with developers, since they are in high demand, and difficult to afford on a typical startup budget.
1. Essential to have company values in place, which should guide hire & fire policy.
2. Execution is utmost, this needs focus, hardwork and determination.
3. Be measured in your products, simplicity is key, try to add value to the experience.
4. Continiuous learning and inclusion is important.
1. What is the Problem? Find the customers perspective. Find your customer niche and use the Lean Canvas to test with users.
2. Where is the Pain? Find target market and validate business idea & customer base.
3. Involve and build a User community to help with product acceptance and growth.
4. Create an MVP and test for customer aceptance and explore monetary gains.
Darren gave a great example of his move to London from Brighton and how the YSYS community had been insprational and supportive in his journey. He explained it was important to differentiate great business support from group chat (which is self serving). All agreed that the YSYS slack platform is very instrumental in getting (pro bono) help from community members.
1. Getting funded is essential to grow your startup but there is a need to align your values and expectations if seeking venture capital. Best approach would be to bootstarp until you acquire traction.
2. Identify investors who have tech expertise, networks and access to influencers, not just the money.
3. the startup journey is not stratight forward, and filled with bumps and twists. Mostly better to start as a side hustle until you have nailed your value proposition.
Closing Remarks: Andy rounded-up and expressed his thanks to the audience.